An examination of lower extremity function and its correlates in older African American and white men

Olivio J. Clay, Roland J. Thorpe, Larrell L. Wilkinson, Eric P. Plaisance, Michael Crowe, Patricia Sawyer, Cynthia J. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Maintaining functional status and reducing/eliminating health disparities in late life are key priorities. Older African Americans have been found to have worse lower extremity functioning than Whites, but little is known about potential differences in correlates between African American and White men. The goal of this investigation was to examine measures that could explain this racial difference and to identify race-specific correlates of lower extremity function. Methods: Data were analyzed for a sample of community-dwelling men. Linear regression models examined demographics, medical conditions, health behaviors, and perceived discrimination and mental health as correlates of an objective measure of lower extremity function, the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Scores on the SPPB have a potential range of 0 to 12 with higher scores corresponding to better functioning. Results: The mean age of all men was 74.9 years (SD=6.5), and the sample was 50% African American and 53% rural. African American men had scores on the SPPB that were significantly lower than White men after adjusting for age, rural residence, marital status, education, and income difficulty (P<.01). Racial differences in cognitive functioning accounted for approximately 41% of the race effect on physical function. Additional models stratified by race revealed a pattern of similar correlates of the SPPB among African American and White men. Conclusions: The results of this investigation can be helpful for researchers and clinicians to aid in identifying older men who are at-risk for poor lower extremity function and in planning targeted interventions to help reduce disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • African American men
  • Health disparities
  • Lower extremity function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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